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Inspiring the Builders of Tomorrow, Today

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As Houston’s construction industry continues to grow it will face workforce shortages. Over the next four years, industrial construction anticipates a need of at least 10,000 craft workers above the projected supply (net of attrition).

But if you ask students what they want to be when they grow up, it’s unlikely you’ll hear careers related to construction despite construction being an industry full of well-paid and dynamic occupations that offer a wealth of opportunities for growth and advancement. Several leading construction companies are working to inspire a new generation to become craft professionals in order to meet the coming need and to close the gap of finding qualified professionals when and where they need them.

Recently, MAREK, JACOBS, and TRIO Electric have worked with the Greater Houston Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative to produce videos that connect a career in construction to success, whether as greater financial stability, personal growth, or opportunities for advancement in the workplace. Four videos titled, “My Life As…” spotlight an apprentice electrician, a leadman carpenter, a pipefitter foreman, and a rigger, each who took a different pathway to the construction industry. The videos show young workers on the job and using the technology and electronics that aid or facilitate their work. (Focus group research conducted by UpSkill and its partners revealed that young people recognize that technology will play a role in what they consider a good job.) The goal for each of these videos is to educate the younger generations and inspire them to learn more about a construction career.

The series is part of UpSkill Houston’s What Are You Up For? campaign that serves to increase public awareness of careers in that are well-paid, in high demand, offer lots of opportunities for growth, and require education and skills beyond high school but less than four years of college. Construction is one of four Houston industries represented through the “My Life As” video series, along with health care, petrochemical manufacturing, and transportation.

The videos are just one career exploration tool. Each video is paired with a career fact sheet and pathway map designed to help students and parents understand specific roles, industries, education or necessary skills to be hired.

Career fact sheets identify role requirements and responsibilities, advancement options, salary estimates, and tips for success such as good communication skills, attention to detail or high concern for safety. Additional educational sheets depict the various pathways from high school, and skill sheets introduce the importance of soft skills employers seek and lead to success.

“What has allowed me to advance in my company is just hunger and ambition,” says MAREK leadman Keith McCray. “I’m willing to learn. I love to learn new things.”

UpSkill Houston partners with independent school districts in Greater Houston, including Aldine, Alief, Fort Bend, Goose Creek, Houston, Pasadena, and Spring Branch, as well as with KIPP schools. The program also works with community-based organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Junior Achievement, Project GRAD, and United Way to reach young people. These educational and community partners are using the “My Life As” video series and social media posts to inspire students and assist their exploration of different pathways to success.

As JACOBS rigger Matthew Petrou says in his “My Life As” video, “Everybody’s goal is to live and have the things that they want, so I think this field is a great place for people to accomplish their dreams.”

Thanks to the strong partnerships created between industry, businesses, schools, and community-focused organizations, this message is being heard. To be a part of the solution, join UpSkill Houston’s work by contacting UpSkill@houston.org. To learn more about the “My Life As” videos, visit www.UpSkillMyLife.org.

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